How India is going to become energy self-sufficient by 2047?

India’s path to energy self-sufficiency involves innovation, determination, and a resolve for sustainable practices.

On the country’s 75th Independence Day, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled an ambitious goal — to transform India into an “energy-independent” nation by 2047.

“India today is not energy independent. Energy imports in the country account for an average of Rs 12,000 crore a year. Independence in this sector is vital for India’s development. Hence, today, India must resolve to become energy-independent by 2047, and our roadmap is very clear on this,” he said.

Becoming self-sufficient in energy is a remarkable achievement for a culturally and politically diverse nation like India. India’s path to energy self-sufficiency involves innovation, determination, and a resolve for sustainable practices. By 2047, the country aims to stand tall as an energy-independent nation, contributing to global environmental goals.

Now, let’s delve into the blueprint and actions driving this vision. Currently, India is not energy independent. Energy imports cost the country an average of Rs 12,000 crore per year. Achieving energy independence is crucial for India’s development.

However, the previous goal set in 2015 — to reduce crude oil imports by 10% by 2022 — has not been achieved. Instead, import dependency has increased since then.

India’s roadmap to energy independence includes several strategic initiatives like a gas-based economy (focusing on natural gas utilization), Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Network (expanding CNG availability across the country), ethanol blending (aiming for 20% ethanol blending in fuels), Railways electrification (the Indian Railways is rapidly electrifying its network targeting net-zero carbon emissions by 2030).

India is trying to energy transition in various sectors including electricity, industry, transport, agriculture, and cooking. The Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) 2015 puts a target of achieving 40% of the installed generation capacity from non-fossil fuel sources. Reducing emissions intensity by 33-35% for 2030 has already been achieved ahead of the target year and the same has been revised in 2022.

The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) studies reveal that a significantly high degree of renewables can be integrated with the grid cost. The levelized cost of electricity from solar and wind has already fallen below the tariff obtained concerning new coal-based power. Energy storage and cost-effectiveness of renewables-plus-storage hold the key to meeting the challenge of electricity supply from Renewable Energy Sources (RES) in the non-sunny and non-windy hours.

India aspires to become a global hub for green hydrogen production and export. In pursuit of this goal, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the National Hydrogen Mission, which aligns with India’s commitment to combat climate change and promote sustainable energy. The Indian Railways is also exploring hydrogen-powered trains as part of this initiative.

The key elements of the electricity sector transition in the country are increasing deployment of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and demand-side management. Adoption of super-critical technology, tightening of norms for environmental pollution, co-firing biomass pellets, and responsible use of fuel in thermal power plants.

The Khavda renewable energy park exemplifies India’s dedication to self-reliant energy infrastructure. Named after the nearest village, this project showcases India’s journey toward an Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-sufficient India).

Energy transition is critical to ward off the threat of climate change and environmental pollution. The carbon budget is gradually declining and the same for a 50% likelihood of remaining under 1.5 °C, according to Climate Change Tracker (2023), is 250 gigatonne CO2 and is estimated to exhaust by 2029. The efforts being made by various countries therefore need to be increased significantly.

Various storage options need to be developed fast depending on their resource potential, maturity of technology, the potential of developing technology indigenously, their value proposition in integrating large quantums of Variable Renewable Energy, cost-effectiveness, etc. Pumped storage hydro followed by concentrated solar power plants, battery energy storage systems, and hydrogen appear to be the order of priority given the foregoing.

The Perform Achieve and Trade (PAT) scheme to reduce emissions intensity in the industries, standards, and labeling program with the gradual enlargement of the ambit of star rating of equipment and tightening of the standards has been yielding significant results.

The net-zero targets set up by many large corporations voluntarily are complementing the de-carbonization efforts of the state-owned enterprises. Recognizing that electric mobility presents a viable alternative for energy transition in the transport sector, various schemes have been rolled out by both the Centre and states.

FAME-I, followed by FAME-II, increasing fuel efficiency by leapfrogging to Bharat Stage-VI emissions, ethanol blending in petrol with a target of 20% blending by 2025-26, have been the key initiatives. PM KUSUM in the agricultural sector and, the UJJWALA scheme for cooking in the rural areas are other initiatives bringing out a holistic energy transition in the country.

The asking rate for the development of solar, wind, small-hydro, and bio-power generation capacity during 2023-32 is of the order of 21%, 12%, 1%, and 4% respectively as compared to a CAGR of 50%, 9%, 3%, and 13% respectively in the period spanning from 2015 to 2023. This should provide confidence and comfort to all concerned.

To meet the anticipated growth in demand for energy, technological options need to be chosen which are optimal in the medium as well as long term. The National Green Hydrogen Mission and identification of critical minerals with a focus on exploration of these are some of the steps in the right direction, contributing to India’s ambition to be Atma Nirbhar (self-reliant) in the clean energy space.

Thrust must be given to floating solar, Agri PV, building integrated PV, off-shore wind, nuclear including SMRs, bio-power, waste-to-energy, expansion of Production incentive scheme to cover full value chain of solar panels, reversible turbines for pumped storage, mirrors for solar thermal, and green hydrogen, etc.

The new scheme of MNRE for the provision of solar rooftop systems in one crore low- and middle-income households – a win-win proposition for the consumers and the DISCOMs – is one of the recent examples of recalibration of schemes requiring acceleration.

The key to the realization of energy transition goals in the country would critically depend on preparing the key stakeholders and people likely to be affected by the transition, making the transition equitable and inclusive. The capacity of states to translate the goals into actionable pathways and implement them in the mission mode is also important.

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